Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Skinny on Skinny

Why do so many people insist that thin women like myself must have an eating disorder? Listen up, weight vigilantes: Go rescue a shelter full of pit bulls instead. Leave us of small bones alone.

I'm 104 pounds and I eat plenty without "refunding" any of it. My frame is small; my metabolism, fast. Deal with it. Skip the jokes ("is this a photo of you or an x-ray?") and realize we're people, too. If you weigh us, do we not register? In a mirror, do we not reflect?

I feel like a Gulliver's Travel's Lilliputian demanding respect for my fellow small folk. We take up less space in everything from airplanes to movie theatres, where we'd never get stuck and block emergency exits, yet we get no discount. Instead we suffer discrimination. The worst offense is by auto makers, whose airbags deploy at speeds intended to protect even unbelted passengers. Such airbags, clearly intended to save your life but reduce your skeleton to a fine powder, are particularly dangerous to us of minimal circumference. Is it too much for everyone to wear seatbelts so people like me can escape being compressed like Wile E. Coyote under a boulder?

People constantly foist third helpings of deep-fried matter upon me. "You need to gain a few pounds," they say. When I do, guess what. My teensy torso and weensy legs are unaffected. Only my lower abdomen inflates, giving me that charming pregnant stick figure build that allows my navel to touch a tree in the next zip code.

Excuse me for eating an ample amount of nutritious food and walking three miles a day. If that healthy lifestyle makes me seem too thin, that's too bad. I'm strong enough to restrain my seventy-pound dog when he sees a squirrel, heavy enough to activate the underground trigger for automatic doors, and substantive enough to have a shadow, one which will be happy to beat up yours.

I especially love the comment, "You're even thinner than last month!" when I've weighed the same for the past twenty years. Are people's perceptions clouded because they're jealous of my physique? They shouldn't be. I still bear the common curse of dissatisfaction with bodily features. Scads of great clothes simply don't exist in my size. And in my case a thin frame came not only with thin hair but also with thin skin, both the epidermal and emotional variety.

It's as though Randy Newman's lyric was "thin people got no reason to live." We shouldn't have to defend ourselves against claims that we're overactive and bulimic, just because a genetic lottery made us naturally lean.

Whatever's necessary to uphold the right to be thin, I'll do it. I'll march in Slender Pride parades wearing my size 0 "Skinny Rules!" sandwich board. I'll put a bowling ball in my pocket to meet the 110-pound minimum when weighed for blood donation. Maybe I'll even tour schools to speak about the rampant problem of girth bias. I won't just sit here idly, hiding behind the pen I used to write this column. Although technically, I could.